Tag: Renewable Energy

On Texas: Fire Them, Fire Them All


Between 2005 and 2008, I worked as a principal engineer for Amazon where I had technical oversight responsibilities for a significant chunk of the Amazon.com retail website. Amazon is one of the most operationally competent companies on the planet but such competence doesn’t happen by accident.

The level of operational availability that Amazon achieves on its website is a consequence of intentional planning and foresight and it comes at a cost. To maintain availability in the face of unexpected events, substantial excess capacity is continuously maintained. At the time I was there, our operational doctrine required us to provision 150% of our expected peak load and to spread that total capacity across three separate geographies. This allowed for the possibility of losing an entire geography without losing the ability to still serve 100% of peak website requests. At one point while I was there, we were using fully 10% of our entire available capacity merely to probe the system for availability problems so that we would discover them before our customers did. A customer-visible problem caused by an engineer could be a career-ending event at Amazon during those years.

Michael Shellenberger joins Brian Anderson to discuss America’s nuclear industry, China’s deal with Saudi Arabia to produce uranium “yellowcake” from uranium ore, and Shellenberger’s new book, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All.

Mark Mills joins Brian Anderson to discuss the enormous energy demands of the world’s modern information infrastructure—“the Cloud”—the subject of his new book, Digital Cathedrals.

“Tech companies confront an inconvenient fact,” writes Mills. “The global cloud uses more energy than is produced by all the planet’s wind and solar farms combined.” In fact, digital traffic has become the fastest-growing source of energy use. While nearly every tech company has pledged to transition to renewable energy sources, most data centers are physically connected to the conventional power grid, fueled by hydrocarbons. The modern economy won’t be exclusively powered by renewables any time soon.

James B. Meigs joins Seth Barron to discuss last month’s power blackout in Manhattan, California’s self-inflicted energy crisis, and potential energy sources for the future.

“As power outages go,” Meigs writes, “the Broadway Blackout of 2019 was pretty modest.” But energy reliability is becoming an issue in states across the country. California’s largest power supplier, Meigs reports, recently announced that it will begin shutting down parts of the grid to help reduce the risk of wildfires.

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Wind and Solar are supposed to be more virtuous than other sources of energy in terms of limiting CO2 output. First, the turbines and solar panels have to be produced. Then they need to be shipped to the wind or solar farm. Due to their intermittent nature, the fossil fuel plants still need to have […]

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James B. Meigs joins City Journal senior editor Steven Malanga to discuss the limitations of renewable energy and the need to expand nuclear technology as a source of clean and reliable electricity.

For nearly four decades, environmental activists have opposed nuclear power in favor of “green” energy. But as Meigs writes in the Winter 2019 Issue of City Journal, “nuclear power is finding new pockets of support around the world.”

One Side Now: The Green Raw Deal


With apologies to Joni Mitchell, here’s my adaptation of her song: “AOC One Side Now.” Suggestions are welcome.

Rows and flows of angel hair
And Leftist castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at energy that way

Hidden Costs of Renewable Fuels


I received an email from my alma mater, Brown University, which linked to this story:

A new Brown initiative with Constellation and Energy Development Partners will transform a former gravel pit in North Kingstown into Rhode Island’s highest-capacity contiguous solar generation project.

Milton Ezrati joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss the Trump administration’s trade negotiations with China and the “Green New Deal” proposed by newly elected Democrats in Congress, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

Proponents of a Green New Deal claim that the plan will prevent damage from climate change. The scale of the proposal is massive: its goals include expanding renewable-energy sources until they provide 100 percent of the nation’s power and eliminating greenhouse-gas emissions for industry and agriculture. To pay for it, Ocasio-Cortez recently suggested a 70 percent income-tax rate on top earners, which Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman described as “reasonable.”

On Climate Change and Nuclear Power, Democrats May Not Be the Party of Science


Nuclear PlantEduardo Porter in the New York Times:

And yet even as progressive environmentalists wring their hands at the G.O.P.’s climate change denial, there are biases on the left that stray just as far from the scientific consensus. “The left is turning anti-science,” Marc Andreessen, the creator of Netscape who as a venture capitalist has become one of the most prominent thinkers of Silicon Valley, told me not long ago.

He was reflecting broadly about science and technology. His concerns ranged from liberals’ fear of genetically modified organisms to their mistrust of technology’s displacement of workers in some industries. “San Francisco is an interesting case,” he noted. “The left has become reactionary.”

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I realized something during the State of the Union address, when Obama called again for investing in renewable energy. He simultaneously asserted that wind energy is cheaper than coal and simultaneously employs more people. A general rule of economics is that if a new technology is to be more economical than an older technology that […]

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How Green Was My Fracking


turbine_county_fracking_county_scrIn The Telegraph, Christopher Booker points out that being Green means you are willfully murdering wildlife:

When Professor David MacKay stepped down as chief scientific adviser to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) last year, he produced a report comparing the environmental impact of a fracking site to that of wind farms. Over 25 years, he calculated, a single “shale gas pad” covering five acres, with a drilling rig 85ft high (only needed for less than a year), would produce as much energy as 87 giant wind turbines, covering 5.6 square miles and visible up to 20 miles away. Yet, to the greenies, the first of these, capable of producing energy whenever needed, without a penny of subsidy, is anathema; while the second, producing electricity very unreliably in return for millions of pounds in subsidies, fills them with rapture.

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According to the NYT, the Germans are making a massive conversion to wind power and IT’S AWESOME! They’re making a bold, brave decision (that’s pushing energy costs through the roof) that’s “driving down costs” of wind turbines and solar panels and IT’S AWESOME! This abandonment of fossil fuel and nuclear power (will devastate the German […]

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